Rhodium Plating: Here’s What You Need to Know and More
Are you tired of your base metal jewelry irritating your skin and wearing out after only a few wears? That won't be a problem anymore with the benefits of rhodium plating.
Rhodium plating is a precious metal that can make your jewelry more durable, resistant, beautiful, and timeless. With hypoallergenic rhodium plating, you don't have to worry about it affecting your gemstones or causing your skin a rash. Rhodium is a great alternative to other metals and a great choice for plating base metal.
What Is Rhodium Plating and How Does It Work?
Rhodium is a precious metal that belongs to the grouping of platinum. It a reflective metal, giving it a shinier appearance.
Rhodium itself is a chemical element (symbol Rh) and extremely rare. Because rhodium is rarer than other metals, it makes it more expensive.
Rhodium is highly resistant to corrosion and tarnishing, which makes it a very attractive plating option for jewelry.
With rhodium being a part of the platinum family, it is one of six metals that is extracted from platinum. The six metals are platinum, rhodium, osmium, iridium, ruthenium, and palladium.
Rhodium gives your jewelry a shinier whiter finish, similar to platinum. If you are getting your jewelry dipped in rhodium, it can hide imperfections and blemishes on the jewelry. If you buy your jewelry already dipped, it will prevent imperfections more.
Along with hiding these imperfections, it adds a nice shine that will reflect well off of light. This will make your piece stand out all the more.
Rhodium is also a very protective metal for jewelry and will help it from becoming damaged, as long as it is well taken care of and not abused. This will make a piece of jewelry last longer and become more durable.
Rhodium goes excellently by plating a base metal piece of jewelry. Base metal is cheaper and more common than precious metals like rhodium. As a result, it is also not as durable and won't hold up against the test of time.
Furthermore, if you have a base metal allergy like a nickel allergy, rhodium will protect you from skin irritations.
If you plate base metal with rhodium, it will help it shine brighter and fight damage better.
Rhodium is a precious metal that can add a lot of qualities to your jewelry.
What Is the Rhodium Plating Process?
First, the piece of jewelry is thoroughly cleaned. It is submerged in a solution that will get rid of any dirt, grime, or grease that could potentially affect the hold of the plating.
An electric current is applied to this solution and helps get rid of the dirt better and faster. If any amount of grime is left on the jewelry, the rhodium will not plate properly and could waste the precious metal by contaminating it.
After the piece is cleaned with the solution, it is rinsed off with distilled water. This will rinse off any leftover solution dripping from the jewelry. If left, the solution could affect the rhodium plating.
After it is rinsed, it is submerged in an activator solution with the same electric current. Activator solutions prepare the piece of jewelry to be dipped into the precious metal. This helps the metal adhere to the jewelry. After it is dipped in the activator solution, it is then rinsed again with distilled water.
After that, the piece of jewelry is dipped in a rhodium solution for about thirty seconds. Then, it's complete.
What Does Rhodium Plating Look Like Before and After?
When a piece of jewelry is just a base metal or has been tarnished, it appears to have a discolored yellowy color to it. It will normally have some imperfections and marks on it.
Before it's plated, if it is base metal, it is more likely to leave marks on your body when you wear it after a period of time. Sometimes this marking can be a green or blue color and irritate your skin.
After the jewelry is plated, it has a reflective, whiter, shinier appearance to it. With proper care, and for a long time, it will not tarnish. It also won't leave marks on your skin or become marked itself.
While the base metal could easily be scratched and ruined, the rhodium plating will protect it and keep it clean and beautiful longer. You won't need to replace the piece of jewelry as much as you would if it were just base metal.
Rhodium will typically last a year or so. If you choose rhodium plating for an engagement ring, you should consider getting it redipped, depending on how much wear and tear there is.
Something to consider: when you redip your ring, it strips the plating during the cleaning process. If you plate your ring too often, it can wear the ring down earlier than it should.
Because of this, you should wait to redip your ring every couple of years or so. Wait until your ring absolutely needs to be redipped to do it. As a result, you don't risk wearing down the ring by constantly redipping it.
Luckily, redipping a ring should only cost around $70 dollars, so it won't be too much of a cost over the years.
How Can I Tell if My Jewelry Is Rhodium Plated? What if It's Fake?
Sometimes, depending on if you go to a reputable jeweler or not, you could be sold a ring that is labeled as rhodium-plated but is not.
If this is a worry, you can do an easy test to see if it's truly plated in rhodium.
Put the shank of the ring against a bright light. If a slight yellow gold color shines through, that means it is rhodium plated.
If it is white-gold, your ring should be reliably plated in rhodium.
Will Rhodium Plating Affect My Diamonds or Gemstones?
With the talk of engagements, comes the question: Will rhodium affect my stones?
With rubies and diamonds being very precious, we want to make sure they don't get ruined by dipping them in rhodium. The same goes for labradorite crystals and other gemstones.
As said before, the way they are dipped is by using an electric current. Because the electric current only goes through metal, it would not affect your precious stones. Gemstones are not metal so they will not be ruined.
Can You Shower With Rhodium Plating?
Showering with rhodium plating, on the rare occasion that you forget to take it off, shouldn't be too bad. That said, if you constantly shower with it, the plating will wear out sooner and become quite the hassle to replate.
As I said earlier, you don't want to redip your jewelry constantly. By showering with the jewelry, you are risking wearing it down quicker and needing to plate it more frequently. It is better to take care of the jewelry well so you won't need to spend so much money replating it more than you should.
This goes the same for doing dishes, washing hands, etc. Any water, especially if it constant, can wear your jewelry down. It will not be as much or go as quick as a base metal or non-plated jewelry. Rhodium, however, will still wear down faster over time than if you took care of it.
Can You Use Perfume While Wearing Rhodium Plated Jewelry?
It is best to not spritz on perfume after you put your jewelry on. Like water, it can tarnish it quicker and wear it down.
Also, the perfume can stick to your jewelry and ruin the sheen and color of the plating. You will need to have it stripped and cleaned sooner and have it redipped.
Can I Wear It to Bed?
While it might not tarnish it as quickly as perfume and water would, it could irritate your skin. Rubbing against the bedding or your skin could cause it to scrape or tarnish.
The oils from your skin can also stick to the rhodium and have the same effect as they would with perfume.
Sterling Silver vs Rhodium
Another popular option for your jewelry is sterling silver. It can be hard to decide whether to get sterling silver plated or rhodium plated because they are both popular options. Let's discuss the differences.
Because rhodium is a rarer metal, that means it is more expensive. Sterling silver is also expensive, but it is still a fair price for the precious metal. Rhodium can be more costly.
Sterling silver will tarnish sooner, but it will remain more durable. When it tarnishes, it loses some of its shine. When it loses its durability, it will scratch more and gain imperfections easier.
The durability of rhodium is not as good as sterling silver. But, it is less likely to tarnish.
Both of them have pros that add to their worth. Sometimes, getting the more durable jewelry can be better, especially if you know it will go through a lot of wear and tear. But, tarnishing will damage the shine and not look as bright and beautiful.
Because of sterling silver's durability and long lifespan, it is a good choice for jewelry that you will wear on a daily basis. Rhodium is a good choice for special occasion pieces that you might not wear on a daily basis.
Rhodium can still be a good choice for daily jewelry, but it will need to be replated more often than sterling silver.
What's the Difference Between Rhodium Plating and Platinum Plating?
When you search for jewelry or plating options, you will hear about rhodium plating and platinum plating, among other types too.
But, if rhodium is part of the platinum family, what's the difference?
Straight platinum can go on a jewelry piece with a thicker coating. Rhodium is a very thin coating because of how rare and precious it is.
While rhodium needs to be replated every now and then, platinum is so durable that it almost never needs to be replated. The coating is stronger and more resistant to damage, which causes it to be less expensive in the long run than rhodium.
The typical cost for plating and redipping jewelry in sterling silver can be around $40-$50. This is lower than the average of $75 you will spend on rhodium. Platinum plating can be a better investment in these areas.
Why Would I Not Get Rhodium Plated Jewelry?
Because it is so rare and costly in the long run, sometimes a cheaper plating might be more worth your while. This is especially true if you are tight on funds.
The coating for rhodium-plating is very thin. Other metals can have a thicker plating because they might be more common.
The main aspects of why people would not choose rhodium plating are because of these things. It all comes down to price and durability in the long run.
Why Would I Get Rhodium Plated Jewelry?
Rhodium plating is beautiful! It gives a beautiful sheen and shine to your jewelry and it is still a very durable choice. The white coating stands out.
It is also hypoallergenic so it won't affect your skin. If it tarnishes after a while and the jewelry itself is base metal, it might affect your skin. But, that wouldn't happen for a while and with proper care.
Is Rhodium Plating Right for Me?
By now, you know all there pretty much is to know about rhodium and rhodium-plated jewelry. Now all you need to do is decide for yourself if rhodium plating is the route you want to take.
Are you ready to plate your jewelry? Take the step now and make your jewelry shine brighter and last longer.